City Research Online

Portfolio of doctorate in health psychology

Pearson, J.A. (2009). Portfolio of doctorate in health psychology. (Unpublished Doctoral thesis, City University London)


Introduction - The purpose of the research was to explore coping and relapse strategies used by pregnant and postpartum women to avoid smoking and to investigate the process of lapses and why this leads to relapse with pregnant and postpartum women. The purpose was to evaluate service delivery by interviewing pregnant and postpartum women. Achieving behaviour change in pregnant women and maintaining cessation in postpartum remains a great challenge in the UK. Gaining a deeper understanding of service delivery may contribute to identification of the active component parts and mediators of successful interventions that elicit behavioural change.

Design - Semi-structured interviews were carried out with fourteen female participants. All of the interviews were conducted in the participant’s home. The interviews lasted between twenty and forty minutes. Participants were six pregnant and eight postpartum clients who had access the service and set a quit date and the age range was from twenty- two to forty-one years of age. The clients were recruited as four distinct samples. The first sample (hereafter referred to as Group 4) consisted of postpartum women who had set a quit date during their pregnancy and had maintain cessation during pregnancy and in the postnatal period. Participants from the second sample (hereafter referred to as Group 3) included pregnant women who had maintained cessation for eight to twelve weeks or longer at any stage during their pregnancy. The third sample (hereafter referred to as Group 1) consisted of postpartum women who had managed to stop smoking during pregnancy and had relapsed back to smoking in the postpartum period within two months. Participants from the last sample (hereafter referred to as Group 2) were pregnant women who had set a quit date at any stage of their pregnancy and relapsed back to smoking.

Results - Twenty themes were identified. Some of the important themes included emotional aspects of smoking, identifying coping strategies, addiction, morals, support, being in control, preparation, adjustment period and postnatal period.

Conclusions - This study has shown that interventions designed to promote cessation during pregnancy and continue postpartum are effective. It has shown how interventions are sensitive to the needs of the pregnant smoker and take into account the psychological and social factors involved with smoking. It has given further insight into the psychological change processes underlying the effectiveness of these interventions and those changes that are important in successful giving up smoking. In addition, it has revealed coping strategies that pregnant and postpartum women utilised to maintain cessation and it explored the journey of lapses to becoming a smoker again and participants’ experiences of service delivery.

Publication Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Departments: School of Arts & Social Sciences > Psychology
Doctoral Theses
Doctoral Theses > School of Arts and Social Sciences Doctoral Theses
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